Migraine Symptoms

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How can you tell if that throbbing headache is really a migraine? Only about 15% to 20% of migraine sufferers experience the classic "auras"-- the visual, auditory, or olfactory perceptions or other neurological symptoms -- known to occur 15 to 30 minutes prior to an attack. Auras most commonly involve visual changes including tunnel vision or temporary blind spots. A band of absent vision with a shimmering, zigzagged border (scintillating scotoma) is a common visual change seen with migraine aura. While severe head pain is the hallmark of the condition, the manifestations of migraine may vary widely from individual to individual.

In general, symptoms of a migraine attack include:

  • moderate-to-severe, throbbing pain in the head, eye pain
  • most commonly one-sided pain; less frequently both sides of the head are affected
  • pain located near the eye on affected side
  • pain that worsens with exertion or physical activity
  • sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • nausea or vomiting
  • debilitating pain that hinders daily activities
  • untreated attacks most commonly last from 4 to 72 hours, but may persist for weeks

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Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/24/2014